How did one of the world’s greatest superhero comic writers become a Sounders fan? Well, it starts with Ted Lasso, then it moves to Sunderland ‘Til I Die, and then it’s Kelyn Rowe scoring his first goal for his local boyhood club. As he is mobbed by his teammates, the crowd chants “2-5-3”. At the time, G. Willow Wilson just noted the power and emotion of the team behind the returning local boy, but then her fandom grew and expanded, and now she’s not shy about say she’s one of us – she’s a Sounder, part of this community.
Wilson joined the Sounder at Heart podcast to discuss his journey into football – and in particular Seattle football – fandom. A journey that unlocked her ability to write again. Like so many others, the strains of the pandemic had reduced his writing, his normality.
Then I watched this, you know, this Sounders game, and it was like a rubber band snapped in my head. And all of a sudden I was like, oh, I remember how to make this work. And it was really, it was phenomenal, you know, I don’t want to derail things in one of those stories like ‘football saved me’ that we all seem to have, but it was kind of like that.
From this hour-long discussion with Willow, there are two main themes about football – the artistry of players that comics can’t recreate, and the nature of community.
There’s this photo, and again, I don’t know who took it and I’ll forget what game it was, but it was last season when someone took this beautiful photo of Raúl Ruidíaz because he was somehow right to hit the ball with his foot. And it looks like it’s not attached to the ground. Looks like you dropped it from the sky and it lands on the ball. And I watch it two or three times a week because it reminds me that there are still things that art hasn’t touched yet, where real life is beyond our ability to reproduce it in art. And for me, that’s really exciting. I think when you’re a storyteller, especially a visual storyteller, you’re always looking for ways to push the horizon a little bit and say, “That’s what I’m chasing.
There is a moment when the strikers open their bodies in this incredible contrapposto. They all do it, but somehow only Raul does it like THIS, like he’s physically descending from Mount Olympus to teach mortals about fire. pic.twitter.com/MfDArTOtdp
— Poison Ivy #1 out now (@GWillowWilson) January 27, 2022
Willow knows a bit about communities and fandoms. She wrote Air, Ms. Marvel, Sandman, Batman, Poison Ivy and more. Now in the mainstream, her work with Ms. Marvel is getting more notice, as it was her version of Ms. Marvel — the origin story — that inspired this Disney+ show.
Someone jokingly said that Ms. Marvel’s real superpowers are her friends. And I was like, “No, it’s true.” And that’s one of his legit superpowers. You know, that was something that was really important to me as a writer, starting with this show, is that really one of its superpowers is its community.
She considers football teams to be part of team-based comic book lore, specifically saying the Sounders would be the Uncanny X-Men. The group must work together and the coach, like the writer, must find a way to introduce them all.
Having joined the Sounders community just under a year ago, Wilson has embraced the Rave Green on Twitter and on podcasts (she mentioned she listened to three other non-Sounder at Heart pods over the week). last). This extended to an interest in OL Reign. The focused dedication and generally supportive nature of the Seattle football fandom is what sets her apart.
Having been involved in many different fandoms over the years, through my job, I have to say that Sounders fans are incredibly disciplined, which might seem like a strange thing to say. You know everyone grumbles there’s criticism it’s kind of a normal part of life but after watching and participating in fandoms of things falling apart it’s incredibly disciplined, incredibly concentrate.
For those of us who have followed the club for over a decade, like the SaH staff members, it was a good reminder of the goodness of the Sounders. We are in that special moment when the MVP of the winning Concacaf Champions League team can wear their medals and take a ferry home.
Stefan Frei just talked to Jeremiah Oshan about it.
Wilson is now a headliner at conventions with a six-figure attendance. She’s seen the change that’s been happening since the growth of the fandom and still cherishes those times when she goes to a smaller convention, like her recent trip back to New Jersey for just that.
Sounders fans should cherish these moments when the club is a trophy behemoth and the players are still with us.
The club will expand, the velvet ropes behind which, you know, the important people sit will appear. That’s kind of how it happens when something grows. And you know, I think that’s good. The growth is good, but people will miss it. Like, it’s that moment in time that I think is really special. Once it gets big and bulky, it’s hard to get back into it.
There’s a freedom to just be a fan. With superhero comics, she started out as a fan, but now she’s a writer with major credits. Football and the Sounders give him some space to be.
What’s funny about football for me is that I’m just a fan. I may just be a fan in a way that I haven’t been able to be for superhero comics or some of that other stuff in a very long time. It’s really cathartic, to just be a fan.
When asked what kind of Sounders stories she still wants to hear, Willow said she’s been diving into it right now as she explores the Sounders’ origin story in MLS. She is currently reading Sounders FC: authentic masterpiece by Mike Gastineau for more on the founding era of the Seattle Sounders MLS experience.
How can we reproduce it? What lessons can we draw from this? Because it’s rare. It’s rare in media, it’s rare in comics, it’s rare in movies. I’m super, super into this book now and really enjoying it.
She is also in contact with the media that covers the Sounders, because like all of us, the process matters too.
But one thing that I have to say that I really enjoyed was finding out, after watching a game, what led up to that moment.
What about football unlocking his writing again? The latest Poison Ivy comic series is the result of Kelyn Rowe’s goal of becoming an emerging Sounder fan.
The minute after that first Sounders game… I went upstairs. I wrote a pitch for a Poison Ivy series – Poison Ivy of course, being the famous green-thumb femme fatale from the Batman books. I sent it to my editor. She responded and said, “This is crazy. I have never seen anything like it before. The first issue came out today. And there’s a connection to Seattle. If you get to number 6, there’s a very small, but very profound thing that only Sounder fans will understand. It’s the first book I wrote entirely when I was a football fan.
You can find Poison Ivy #1 at your favorite comic book store or at Comixology. Ms. Marvel is currently streaming on Disney+. Willow’s comic-centric Twitter account is @GWillowWilson; his soccer-centric account is @GWWOffside.